The Talking Dog

November 30, 2016, Good as Goldman

We are shocked-- shocked-- to find that Steve Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs investment banker (related to a number of other GSers, btw), has been named as putative Treasury Secretary by the president elect.

Oh... who can forget this one:

Yeah... how about that?

November 28, 2016, Look Over There! Part ___

Today's version of "let's focus on some seemingly off the wall crap so that you don't look at the actual malfeasance I'm performing right in front of you," our esteemed President-Elect suggests that he "won" the entirely irrelevant popular vote, you see, because "millions of illegal voters" voted for his opponent (even as he chides his opponents for demanding a recount in the states with the closest margins) all while questioning the legitimacy of an election he won; our friend Joe Gandelman has a round-up.

Here's the thing: while the Donald has invited the chattering classes to take the bait and note that this is consistent with his penchant for peddling baseless conspiracy theories that just happen to support his narcissistic world view, what's actually going on is that he is basically (1) stocking his incoming government with extremists and rich people (and often extremist rich people), most of whom are Beltway Insiders, (2) declining his daily intel briefings while claiming to talk directly to world leaders (and "receiving intelligence from a number of sources"), and of course, (3) steadfastly pursuing the endless, global-sized business conflicts of interest (documented by the Grey Lady) ... [Boing Boing follows up and also notes the sleight of hand point.]

In short, we have a small-time grifter with small hands in the rather shocking position of being able to trade national policy to advance his own business interests (yes, I know this is what Hillary Clinton was accused of... ain't American great?)... and it appears that he is doing exactly that, complete with refusing to place his assets in a blind trust and having his business heir apparent (that would be his daughter Ivanka) sitting in on transition meetings, thereby assuring that his governmental policies (whatever they might be) harmonize with his business interests.

What can we do about it?, you ask. With this "crazy like a fox"... president-elect... keep your eyes on the prize, or to the point, "follow the money." God knows that's what he's doing.

Update: The really really big thing the Donald wants you not to think about is "the Emoluments Clause," which, ethics counsel for the last two presidents (including the Republican one) says requires Mr. Trump to sell his businesses and place the proceeds in a blind trust, or be in immediate violation of the Constitution from day one. Since "enforcement" would lie in the hands of the Republican Congress... well, you say Constitution, and I say "emoluments e-schmoluments."

November 27, 2016, And the hits keep coming

Today's post-Trump-election happy-gram comes to us from California, where a number of mosques received evidently threatening letters hearkening to do to Muslims what Hitler did to the Jews, and praising notional leader Donald "Herr Drumpf" Trump. Wow, And this from Daily Beast , citing The Emperor's New Clothes, notes that a feckless media is already falling over itself to normalize Trump-ism.

When/if the "Muslim Registry" gets going, I, and, I hope, my family and everyone I know (including, well, you) will register as well, whether you self-identify as Muslim or not. Evil cannot be cooperated with; like the Danes who all donned yellow stars during the Nazi occupation, resistance is not futile.

Our nation has decided to express its pique towards a haughty and unresponsive Establishment in a uniquely self-destructive way... we as individuals (the majority of whom who voted, voted against this)... simply do not have to cooperate.

Herr Drumpf himself, of course, does not (and apparently never did) follow the rules of polite and civilized society (while he perhaps, but not necessarily, violates written laws); there is a huge chasm between actual law-breaking and simply not cooperating. In this case, I suggest we follow Il Douché's example, and show him just how much fun it will be to govern a populace that has no interest in cooperating in its "governance."

November 26, 2016, Muere "El Jefe" Fidel Castro

Esto en español; and then this from the Grey Lady.

Say what you will about Castro, the world's longest serving communist leader, a man who was both repressive and innovative-- who put his nation in the position of having to "go it alone" against an American embargo, but proved it could do it (with impressive feats in healthcare, literacy and environmental sustainability-- all by necessity), but almost no one aware of him does not have strong feelings. I felt at the time, and still do, that President Obama's decision to reopen diplomatic relations with Cuba was one of the signal achievements of his presidency-- our isolation of the island nation, even decades after the end of the Cold War-- was just unjustifiable.

No matter. Fidel did manage to hang on long enough to ensure that just one more Republican got just enough Cuban-American votes to win Florida, and hence the presidency. Perhaps ensuring that Castro got the last laugh, after all. Gracias, el Jefe. Muchas gracias.

November 24, 2016, Thanksgiving warmth

I'll give you this thematic piece of E.J.Dionne from WaPo called "How to Prevent Thanksgiving Armageddon" implying that "right-thinking people" should "gently chide" Trump supporters on issues such as the Donald's business conflicts of interest, apparent support of racism (and the clear support of him by racists), and the man's personal vindictiveness... far be it for me, but I'm inclined to replay what they said after the 2000 election ("get over it") a phrase I wish we would have heard after the 2008 election. While I wish Jill Stein well in her recount efforts, I think we have an outcome. And as I expected, we have the Donald signalling us in his personnel moves that he will select the mix of party regulars, party maniacs and rich Republican donors (not to mention Trump loyalists) that we would expect him to do. Dark times are coming-- but not dramatically darker than what we should be used to by now.

It's not as if this was a good versus evil election, folks: it was an evil versus really evil election, and really evil happened to win by the vagaries of which votes counted (flyover country) and which did not (the coastal elites... from which WaPo, Grey Lady, etc. live out their lives in the bubble). The scary part for me is that the White-supremacist/nativist/racist/misogynist/homophobic/anti-semitic strain in this country, that's surprisingly large, might feel that it has open season to act out, evidence for which has already been showing itself. And the only reaction is to accept none of it without an overwhelming response: not one little thing.

BTW... I agree with Rebecca Traister that blaming Clinton supporters for her loss is a mistake, the reason is Clinton herself. She was a horrible candidate who garnered no actual human connection with anyone outside the billionaire Hollywood/Hamptons bubble, and who, despite being unbelievably vulnerable in a "character election," chose to run one anyway out of her own ego. What a surprise when millions of people (I'm talking Obama voters) who felt screwed by neo-liberal Clintonian policies took a chance on an "outsider," even an extremely evil one. May this be the last election in which we ever even hear her name. Or else... we can blame who we want... we will just lose again.

The hell with avoiding Armageddon: some of us are itching for a fight. In our family, that probably involves talking about Israel ❤️ Trump... just saying...

November 21, 2016, Quick! Look Over There!

TD Brother has often quipped that whenever something truly inane takes over the news cycle, invariably, something else is going on that the power players would rather be downplayed in favor of trivial crap, such as this weekend's Trump-kerfuffles over purported insults to His Highness by Saturday Night Live-- a show that legitimized His Highness in the first place by giving him and no other candidate a coveted guest spot-- and of course, an "insult" to Mike Pence no less, who btw was cool with the event, by the cast of Hamilton... Juan Cole treats us to at least five actual stories that the Trump people and their media allies (or at least media useful idiots) didn't press:

1. Trump charged some students as much as $30,000 a year for tuition at his so-called university, in return for which they got nothing of value. The Better Business Bureau gave the “university” a D-minus rating. As George Takei of Star Trek fame tweeted, Trump probably made $150 million with this educational fraud, even after paying the settlement.... @GeorgeTakei 5,000 defrauded students, at $35K each = $175mil. Settled for $25mil, walks away with $150mil. This is our crooked Prez. 2:50 PM - 20 Nov 2016 .... What Mr. Takei did not say is that even the $25 mn. settlement can be taken off Trump’s taxes! This is the man who ran on lowering student debt— but who created debt for 5,000 students, and useless debt (many indebted students at least do have a real degree).

2. A Neo-Nazi conference was held in Washington this weekend to celebrate Trump’s win, in which there were actually “Heils” shouted out from the audience and anti-Jewish statements were made. These white supremacists go by the name alternative right or alt-right by which they mean that they are to the right of the conservatives. The corporate media, in accordance with the project of normalizing Trumpism, has been willing to refer to them by this term that they themselves chose for propaganda purposes. But they are just white supremacists with a nostalgia for 1930s Germany.

3. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) threatened to take the incoming Trump administration to court if they engaged in waterboarding, which is included in international law as a form of torture. Trump ran on a platform of using torture, and at one point promised to bring back waterboarding. His nominee as head of the Central Intelligence Agency, Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS), has said he does not consider waterboarding to be torture, and affirmed that it is constitutional. (The Bill of Rights forbids cruel and unusual punishment, and the US is signatory to treaties and instruments that ban torture).

4. Attorney-General nominee Sen. Jeff Sessions is linked to a galaxy of far right wing anti-immigration groups

5. Members of the Israeli cabinet are coming out in favor of white supremacist Steve Bannon, the new White House propagandist under Trump. Bannon’s and the Neofascist tendency it represents have often engaged openly in bashing Jews. (Bannon says that Breitbart is an organ of the “alt-right,” the Neofascist strain referenced in “2” above). Like many white nationalists, however, they support Israeli squatters against brown Palestinians, and this is the basis on which PM Binyamin Netanyahu’s extremist cabinet is willing to give them a pass. The term “Antisemite” is now reserved by the Zionist right wing only for human rights critics of the theft of Palestinian land and resources, and is not applied to actual bigots who are prejudiced against, you know, like . . . Jews. This development is not exactly shocking, since the Likud Party’s “revisionist” Zionist has roots in the 1930s mass political movements and is influenced by fascist thinking of that era.

As Trump is a master showman, this sort of sleight of hand comes easily and naturally; we will be quite used to it in the coming years, to be sure.

November 21, 2016, The populace strikes back... calmly and quietly

A quickly organized public rally took place yesterday in Brooklyn's tiny Adam Yauch Park, nestled next to the Brooklyn Queens Expressway, decrying the recent defacement of the park with swastikas and the words "Go Trump" (as I recently noted); I was out there with many of my neighbors... note the sign that says "Hey Trump where's your anti-Nazi tweet?"

Meanwhile, a swastika showed up on an elementary school near Denver, CO. The President-Elect could condemn incidents such as these (possibly at the behest of his influential Jewish son-in-law), but we won't hold our breath; instead, he is directing his ire at the cast and producers of Broadway smash Hamilton, and otherwise, filling out his incoming Administration with figures that are just delighting the alt-right (or should I say, alt-White?)

These are clearly dark times; pretending otherwise will only make them darker. The last fifteen years would seem to be a mere dress-rehearsal. This is no longer a drill (just in case you thought that massive, total electronic surveillance, indefinite detention ,and perpetual war were some kind of academic exercise). An unbelievably broad and powerful means-of-autocracy has now been handed to someone who has shown no evidence of either the discipline or character not to abuse the crap out of them. Let's not pretend otherwise. You don't have to be Muslim, or Mexican, or female, or of color to be threatened... just a person of character and good will. We're going to test the tensile strength of our Constitution and institutions of civil society (what's left of them, anyway)... where will you stand?

November 19, 2016, More coming attractions

Stately Dog Manor, it seems, is near the epicenter of something... perhaps a mile from Hillary's campaign headquarters when they were operating, A politically-inspired assault just a few blocks from here. And now the defacement, complete with swastikas no less, of a nearby park named after Adam Yauch-- one of the Beastie Boys-- perhaps 800 yards from SDM.

"Make America Hate Again" was one of the mocking variations of the Donald's primary campaign slogans suggested by Hillary (at least at her convention.) It does seem to be all too prophetic, certainly in what was once the peaceable kingdom of this part of Brooklyn, anyway.

To quote the Donald himself... sad.

November 16, 2016, Happy birthday...

To Mrs. TD. There... something nice!

November 15, 2016, To be frank, this is what the voters actually say they wanted

Josh Marshall reports on the cluster-fuckery going on over in Trumpland viz "the transition," to wit, actual national security expert former Congressman Michael Rogers is out because of "his ties to Chris Christie." What ties are those? None, really, except Christie asked him, as a seasoned Republican hand, to be part of the transition. But Christie is out now. Because of the Bridgegate Scandal, you say? Oh no... the Donald's son-in-law Jared Kushner has a vendetta against Christie associated with former prosecutor Christie's prosecution of his father Charles Kushner some years ago. So, Kushner, whose qualification, like Trump's himself, is that he was born the son of a rich real estate developer, is now running the national security transition (it would seem) along with the problematic retired General Michael Flynn (fired from the Obama Administration at some point)... his qualification is that he is an extreme right-winger who evidently doesn't like Barack Obama. This, boys and girls, is the backbone of what will soon be the nation's national security apparatus.

Of course, this recent piece from my fair city's Daily News suggests that, at least as far as "swing state voters" in PA were concerned, they, previous Obama voters, supported Trump because he is a non-politician (yes, they believed his tripe about magically restoring industry and jobs... but they felt that Hillary was part of the problem, and a long-time insider, whereas non-politician the Donald was, at least, "different;" they felt that the endless reports of his awfulness went in one ear and out the other, though they seemed to accept stories of Hillary's awfulness.) If by Trump being "different", they meant completely incompetent, then I can only say, "mission accomplished."

'Twas H.L. Mencken who said, "Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard." To coin a phrase, indeed.

November 14, 2016, Coming Attractions

Random assorted incidents of petty violence-- often in the variety of some kind of ethnic harassment-- have been endemic both during the remarkably divisive Presidential campaign, and in light of the Trump victory (thanks again, Hillary).

This particular report, of a random male diner dashing back into a restaurant so he could punch a woman with whom he disagreed over the Trump victory, is peculiarly jarring to me, insofar as it took place within a short walk of Stately Dog Manor.

Feelings clearly remain strong. One hopes that Trump supporters will at least try to be good sports about their man winning teh election.

Not how I'd bet, of course.

November 13, 2016, Twit

In a 60 Minutes interview-cum-victory-lap, President Elect Donald "the Donald" Trump (may as well get used to that) suggests he may still use his Twitter account while President, though presumably, much more carefully and much more sparingly.

With luck, his handlers will break his short fingers, rather than let him do anything unfiltered on social media, or anything else, ever again. Can you spell "international incident"?

The man has been a discipline problem since childhood; that will have to be dealt with. As with the case of the nearly half of voters who supported Trump... each will get what they claim to want... good and hard.

November 12, 2016, The future is now

Listen to your Uncle Bernie: there's no going back.

November 11, 2016, Pussy Riot

Have to run out of the house early today, but I had to link to this piece from Politico, Clinton aides blame everyone but themselves. Listen, Trump was shocked he won. Michael Moore (and honestly, you and I) were horrified... but not "shocked."

Hopefully, the fact that this awful candidate (who's the narcissist, Tim Kaine? who won't listen?) has now lost to a Black man, a Jewish man (for whom she cheated to "win" by preempting the California primary) and now, she has done the ultimate-- an inexperienced and unstable P.T. Barnum clone who seemed to be trying to lose..., This means she should never be allowed in public again, let alone the Democratic Party as a candidate. But she's a Clinton: maybe only God can shut her down... because I fear she will back, poisoning her party for at least the next four years. Like she and her husband have been doing for decades.

Let's hope I'm wrong. One term of President Trump should be enough, don't you think?

Update:: Not even forty eight hours after Hillary Clinton presides over the biggest debacle in American electoral history... wait for it... no, not that the outlier professor who predicted a Trump win based on his unique metrics now predicts that Trump will be impeached or resign... no.,..

The announcement is... wait for it... Chelsea Clinton is being groomed for a Congressional run. Game, set, match. It has reproduced: the Clinton attempt at a dynasty will now proceed via another generation. Democrats... be afraid.

November 9, 2016, One long national nightmare ends... another begins

President-Elect Donald Trump.

I suppose I should measure anything I say quite carefully after that; I'm still exhausted, having run a marathon three days ago, and then spent over 13 hours on my feet yesterday at a polling place in Philadelphia yesterday, as part of a valiant, but clearly inadequate effort on the part of Hillary Clinton (who was mucking around in Arizona while not defending her flank in the old rust belt, thereby vindicating the analysis of Michael Moore, who predicted this, and in this way.) The women in my life are extremely unhappy today... but... but... more White women, at least, voted for Trump than Clinton.

I feared something like this as well... admit it... you did too... you didn't really believe polls after Brexit, now did you?

Is this what the nation needed right about now? I don't know; it is, however, what the nation has rather decisively chosen... Republican governance across the board, btw, as that party controls both houses of Congress on Trump's coattails. Regular readers know that I don't really have a pollyannish streak, but at least our relations with (nuclear armed) Russia are likely to improve dramatically. Will anything else good come out of this? Time will tell.

Good times.

November 7, 2016, Anxious Times

As we await the outcome of an election in which the favored-by-pre-election-polling candidate would go on to become our nation's first female President (and I'll be in Philadelphia tomorrow doing my small part to help that happen)... it's time to take a moment to say goodbye to our nation's first female attorney general, Janet Reno, who just passed away at age 78. Ms. Reno, who served during the entire eight years of Bill Clinton's presidency, had her share of controversies, but in the view of this former employee of the United States Department of Justice (that would be me) she acquitted herself honorably and respectably overall. Rest in peace, Ms. Reno.

WaPo's Chris Cilizza gives us this straightforward take on why FBI Director James Comey's "handling" of recent discoveries of emails on the Weiner/Abedin electronic devices "couldn't be worse."
For those not paying attention, it seems, just as abruptly as Comey tried to throw the race to Donald Trump by announcing that the emails had been discovered and implying that an investigation into the Clinton emails had reopened (technically these investigations close only upon death or conviction/acquittal or expiration of statute of limitations) at the precise moment that Trump's campaign was, in Trump's own language, kaput... Mr. Comey now announces "nothing to see here folks move along," i.e., the decision not to prosecute stands. Mr. Comey will hopefully have some 'splaining to do to his new boss, Hillary Clinton.

And just before I break into my solipsism, I give you one of the great solipsism practitioners of all time, that would be the Great Sarah Palin [TM] (seriously, the woman is a national treasure, though not for the reasons she thinks)... former 1/2 term Governor Palin suggests that Donald "the Donald" Trump will, despite the odds, win tomorrow, because "Polls are for Strippers." To be fair, she also added they are for cross-country skiers.

And in other athletic news, your talking dog crossed the finish line of yesterday's TCS New York City Marathon shortly after 1700 EST (change your clocks if you haven't yet boys and girls), marathon no. 47 overall, and the all-important 15th N.Y.C., the number of finishes granting guaranteed entry going forward. I wore my usual Brooklyn Dodgers attire, this time with a Statue of Liberty headband around the baseball cap, signifying that this is a nation that welcomes your tired, poor, huddled masses, and doesn't want to build a damned wall to keep them out, etc., etc.

Well, Election Day awaits us tomorrow. You know what to do.

November 3, 2016, Apocalypse... now?

November 2, 2016, Oh joy

I'm not at all deterred from my intention, as I have done in 2006 and 2008, to travel to Pennsylvania on Election Day as part of the Democratic Party legal team monitoring polling activity, notwithstanding the alleged plans of "White nationalists" to deploy their own poll watchers intent on intimidating non-White voters. Interestingly, for the moment, at least for people like me [White, upper middle class, regularly employed...] , this is still mostly a free country, and, while I have more problems with her than I can count, if Hillary Clinton is elected, I can at least be assured that it will still be mostly a free country... with Herr Drumpf, given his tendencies to extremist statements and his courting of extremist support... and a party that, if it controls Congress, may well just go on a feeding frenzy... who the hell knows?

I will say that, this weekend, while finishing the Suffolk County Marathon (no. 46!) a few minutes faster than last year, I observed a goodly number of Trump/Pence signs... more, actually, than I had seen in the entire country (albeit mostly confined to points in the Northeast, as far West as swingy PA and OH and as far North as ME)... still, other than two in someone else's house on my own block here in Brooklyn, no Hillary signs... just sayin'...

Where was I? It seems to me that rumors of Republican FBI Director James Comey's professionalism and even-handedness are greatly exaggerated. Admittedly, he was put in a preposterous position earlier this year given Attorney General Lynch's hopeless conflict in the matter (thanks Bill!), but nonetheless, he did tiptoe right to the edge of propriety in commenting on the various "extremely careless" handling of emails amidst a rather damning rampage (which ended with "no reasonable prosecutor" would bring charges against Hillary Clinton). There's nothing even remotely reasonable or defensible, however., about Mr. Comey's October Sextprise [TM], that is, his abrupt, totally unvetted statement to Congress duly made public that a new trove of emails supposedly relevant to the Clinton investigation popped up on Anthony Weiner's home computer and devices, presumably shared with his estranged spouse Huma Abedin, Hillary's majorette domo... and it seems, the underage girl who received Weiner's lewd text messages now objects to the FBI Director's making her a political pawn in this (because God knows Weiner gave her up in a New York minute).

Of course, it at least takes news of Donald "The Donald" Trump's own alleged abuse of an underaged girl (in this case, the rape of a 13-year old girl)... off the front page... as if it were getting any coverage anyway!

And besides inspiring "poll watching," apparently it seems the Donald's fans are inspired to do other things... such as burn down a historically Black church in Mississippi, and then write "Vote Trump" in the wreckage. In neighboring Alabama, the Secretary of State suggests that it would "cheapen" the work of civil rights heroes if too many people (you know who we mean) actually registered to vote. for his part, the President laments about low Black turnout. []Of course, no one lamented when high Black turnout in Super Tuesday states, coupled with the bullshit practice of super-delegates signing on with Hillary before a single primary or caucus, more or less finished off Bernie Sanders before the damned thing even started, pretty much putting the Democrats-- and the nation-- in the precarious situation we are in right now of a possible Trump presidency. Just sayin'.]

The President also said that the FBI "doesn't operate on innuendo."
Good one, Barack.

Well, six days to go... the many band-aids placed on our frayed social order, such as, oh, tolerance for people of different ethnicities, colors, genders, religions... have all been torn off, rather painfully, in the last year, year and a half. The best one can say is that maybe the wounds were festering, and getting this out in the open is the only way we can ultimately come to grips with whether, going forward, this will be a country of atavistic cracker assholes, or whether it can be something better. I'm not particularly optimistic, but I will do the little I can, and I urge you all to do the same.